Pentecostals, Charismatics and the Third Wave Movements

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The Pentecostal Movement (The First Wave)

The modern classical Pentecostal movement began at the beginning of the 20th century and has its roots in the holiness movement and revivalism of the 2nd Great Awakening in America during the 19th century.  See A Brief History of Pentecostalism.  Many see it as the revival of Montanism, a second century heresy. See also Neo-Montanism: Pentecostalism is the ancient heresy of Montanism revived

From comes a well written academic article well worth reading: Excited Utterances: A Historical Perspective On Prophesy, Tongues and Other Manifestations of Spiritual Ecstasy (Dr Matthew Allen).  Chapter 2 of this article is on the heresy of Montanism.

Modern Pentecostals are distinguished by three main doctrines:

  • The baptism of the Holy Spirit
  • The manifestation of speaking in tongues
  • The manifestation of divine healing.

Speaking in tongues, also known as glossolalia, is seen as proof of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This is one of the differences between Pentecostal and Charismatic theology.  See The Doctrine of Tongues (Harold MacKay) and Speaking in Tongues (Lehman Strauss). This experience of Spirit baptism and its initial evidence in tongue speaking must be earnestly sought by believers. It doesn’t just happen; conditions must be met. Consciously, fervently, actively the seeker has to do these things. Often, too, he needs the assistance of others already filled with the Spirit. These must pray for him, lay hands on him before the Spirit will come. These conditions vary, but generally they are: worship, joyous faith, earnest expectation, praise and thanksgiving, obedience, separation from sin, intense desire, baptism, asking of God, etc.
Pentecostals differ from Fundamentalists by placing more emphasis on personal spiritual experience and, in most cases, by allowing women in ministry. For an interesting article from the reformed perspective on Pentecostalism, see Pentecostalism: Its identity, History and influence and Pentecostalism in light of the Word.

The biggest difference between Pentecostal belief and Fundamentals is not in the doctrine of justification, but in the doctrine of sanctification.  Increasingly today, through the ministry of people such as Billy Graham, we see many denominations including the Church in Rome finding agreement on the doctrine of justification.  However it is the doctrine of sanctification in which there is wide disagreement. Key to Pentecostalism is the concept of the Full Gospel.  Pentecostals believe in the concept of The Full gospel which states that the Spirit has baptized every believer into Christ at the time of conversion (Justification), but that Christ has not yet baptized every believer into the Spirit (Pentecost).  To enjoy the full gospel, this experience is therefore necessary.  This is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of justification.

Pentecostals also do not believe in the perseverance of the saints.  That is, they do not believe in the doctrine of Eternal Security. They believe it is possible to lose salvation. They are Arminian in doctrine, rejecting Calvinism.

Within Pentecostalism is a group represented by the United Pentecostal Church.  This group denies the Trinity and is often known as Oneness Pentecostalism.  For more information see the apologetics index on Oneness Pentecostalism (scroll down to find the section) and also Oneness Pentecostals and their Schizophrenic God by
Jay N. Forrest

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The Charismatic Renewal Movement (The Second Wave)

The Charismatic Renewal movement began in the middle of the 20th century. At this time, Pentecostal doctrines spread into the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches as “charismatic renewal” movements with the aim of renewing the historic churches.

Charismatics differ from Pentecostals in their attitude towards doctrine.  In the charismatic movement doctrine is seen as dividing believers.  They shun the Biblical teaching on separation and encourage those who have ‘received the baptism’ to remain in their churches and denominations.  As well, while Charismatics believe in the doctrine of Tongues, they do not place as much of an emphasis on this doctrine as Pentecostals do.  In other words, it is possible to receive the baptism and not speak in tongues. See The Doctrine of Tongues (Harold MacKay) and Speaking in Tongues (Lehman Strauss)

Charismatics teach that you can get more of the Holy Spirit by being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). For a discussion on this topic see The filling of the Spirit, (Eph. 5:18) (Mark Swaim) and also The Filling of the Holy Spirit: Is it the Biblical Basis for Christian Maturity? (Arthur F. Temmesfeld, Th.M)

For further information on the charismatic movement, see:

The Line Drawn (MJ Stanford)

The book, Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur can be read on-line (scroll down to the charismatic chaos section)

Charismatic Error

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Signs and Wonders or Neo-charismatic Movement (The Third Wave)

Church-growth specialist C. Peter Wagner in his book, “The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit” first used the term, “Third Wave Movement.” It originated at Fuller Theological Seminary in 1981 under the classroom ministry of John Wimber, founder of the Association of Vineyard Churches (see  Vineyard Christian Fellowship – An Expose).  Those associated with this movement do not wish to be labeled “Pentecostal” or “charismatic.”  Like the charismatic renewal, the Third Wave Movement is a renewal and revival movement.

Third Wavers are  difficult to classify doctrinally because there is a de-emphasis on doctrine. As a result, doctrine can vary widely. See Third Wave Doctrines

The book, Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur can be read on-line (scroll down to the charismatic chaos section).  Chapter 6 of this book deals with The Third Wave (John MacArthur)

From comes a well written academic article well worth reading: Excited Utterances: A Historical Perspective On Prophesy, Tongues and Other Manifestations of Spiritual Ecstasy (Dr Matthew Allen)

Below are some characteristics of the Third Wave movement:

1. Those associated with this movement do not wish to be labeled “Pentecostal” or “charismatic.” despite sharing Pentecostal-like experiences and doctrines.  They simply wish to be known as evangelicals who are open to the Holy Spirit.

2. They are Gnostics.  They believe God can and does communicate outside of the Scripture and directly to His children, giving new revelation that is apart from Scripture.  Third Wavers thus deny the sufficiency of Scripture.

3.  Five-Fold Ministry is one of the “truths” God is supposedly restoring to the church and is associated with the Latter Rain Movement.  This is a system of church government with apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.  See The Faulty Foundation of the Five-Fold Ministry by Robert M. Bowman.

4. In these end times, God is re-establishing the offices of prophet and apostle with the power and authority beyond anything experienced by the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles.  For more information, see False Prophets, Pseudo Apostles, and a New Gospel

5. Unity is far more important than doctrine.  Unity is built through relationships, not doctrine.  Doctrinal differences are set aside.  As a result, those riding this wave are able to infiltrate various churches with the goal of influencing the church to accept the vision of the Third Wave which is unity under modern day apostles and prophets.

6. Power Evangelism and Power Encounters. Jesus and the apostles met the needs of people by healing, casting out demons, and even raising the dead. These miracles made people interested in the Good News. This is how we should evangelize today. A Power Encounter happens when the Kingdom of God encounters the Kingdom of Satan. It is here when God shows his power over Satan and people turn to the Lord.

7. Those associated with this movement are not waiting for the return of Christ but for the Church to rise up and usher in the kingdom.  The ushering in of the kingdom depends on the church. Instead of looking for the coming Savior, the church is to solve the problems of planet earth. God’s glory now replaces the physical Son of God coming back.

8.  Individuals can be demonized; that is, a demon can live within a part of the body. Even a Christian can be demonized. A demon cannot inhabit the spirit of a Christian, but a demon can live in the body of a Christian.

9.  Kingdom Now; Kingdom-Dominion; Restoration Theology (This is also associated with the House-church and Restoration movements.  For more information, see Kingdom Theology.  For an excellent article  on this subject, well worth reading, see  Ten reasons to reject Kingdom-Dominion teaching. Another article to read is Dominion Theology, Kingdom Now Theology, Recontructionism.

10.  A favorite Scripture that those associated with this movement like to quote is Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I will do a new thing.” For more information, see The New Thing.


The Greek word, gnosis means knowledge.  In the first century, Gnostics insisted they were genuine, Bible believing Christians. They did not reject the apostles nor their apostolic teaching.  They did not reject the Bible.  They simply claimed they had an additional source of knowledge or insight that was beyond the knowledge of Scripture.  This extra knowledge did not come from the study of God’s Word.  It was mystical and came by direct communication from God.  These private ‘revelations’ were considered divine authority.  Gnostics were thus considered heretics by the early church because of their view of revelation.

Today, God does not give ‘new revelation’ to men.  God is not doing ‘a new thing’.  All knowledge and experiences, all ‘things’ can be found in the written Scriptures.  Any knowledge, experience or ‘thing’ that cannot be found in Scripture is not of God and is not for God’s people.  Any revelation that goes beyond or contradicts or adds or takes away from what is revealed in the written Word of God is a counterfeit.  Experiences such as being ‘slain in the spirit’ or ‘holy laughter’ or being ‘drunk in the spirit’ are not found in Scripture.  This is well known to those who teach these things.  As a result, those who teach them do not try to defend their teachings with Scripture.  Instead, they look for a ‘new thing’, an experience or revelation that is outside God’s Word.  Because these experiences lie outside Scripture, they also lie outside the area where God’s Spirit moves.  These experiences thus come from areas where other spirits move, in the occult.

Third Wave Teachers:

C. Peter Wagner

Quotes from C. Peter Wagner
New Apostolic Reformation
Welcome the new prophets to head of the church
Apologetics Research

Rick Joyner

Rich Joyner is a Gnostic. The Apologetics Research Resources on Religious Cults, Sects, Religions, Doctrines etc. has written some articles on Third Wave teachers and teachings. This research organization believes Rick Joyner and Morningstar Ministries to be one the most unsound and dangerous teachers around. His error-filled, unorthodox teachings include (but are not limited to) Kingdom Now (or Dominion) theology, extra-biblical revelation, and the denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Rick Joyner is a Third Wave teacher and has written many books including The Final Quest which is about Joyner’s vision on what he sees is a civil war now underway in Christendom between those who support the new thing God is doing today (called the “move of God”) and those who oppose it. Those who oppose the “move” as seen by Joyner, comprise the hordes of hell. The “move of God” Joyner supports is the Toronto Blessing and similar renewal and revival movements. Oppose this ‘new thing God is doing’ and you’re in trouble.  He has declared war on those who oppose the New Thing God is doing.  See Rick Joyner, Christian Gnostic:  Civil War for details.

Other Third Wave teachers

Other Third Wave teachers include Jack Deere, Ted Haggard, Bill Hamon, Cindy Jacobs, George Ortis Jr. and,Dutch Sheets.  Click here for more information.

Unbiblical Doctrines, Teachings and Phenomena of the Third Wave Counterfeit Revival Movement

Quotes from Third Wave leaders

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The Preaching of Christ and the Word of God

Some preach Christ for various reasons.  In Philippians 1:18, Paul wrote,

“In every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.”

Among Pentecostals, Charismatics and Third Wavers, there are many sincere believers in the Lord Jesus.  They love the Lord and seek to obey Him.  Many preach Christ and people are won for Christ. In this we rejoice.  Nevertheless, the Scriptures also tells us to “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Scriptures tell us that there will be a time when people will not be interested in sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:2-4).  We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). That is the purpose of this critique.  We rejoice that Christ is preached; but we teach the Word of God and warn others of the dangers of deception which is prevalent in these last days (2 Timothy 3:13; Titus 3:3;.


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